Instituto Astrofisico de Canarias - LaPalma Node

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The LaPalma Supercomputer

Financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), LaPalma supercomputer is one of the eight nodes belonging to the RES. It is located in the "Centro de Astrofísica de La Palma (CALP)", in Breña Baja.

The installation of LaPalma in 2007 was a strategic step with the objective to boost the observation activities in the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos - above all through the incorporation of the Gran Telescope CANARIAS (GTC) - and therefore reinforce the telecommunication development on the island.

At the end of 2012 LaPalma doubled the number of cores but kept the number of blades (256). With 1024 PowerPC cores, the maximum processing capacity increased from 4.5 TFLOP/s to 9 TFLOP/s. The power consumption however increased only by 20%. LaPalma, installed in a controlled environment room of 32 square metres, has two terabytes of principal memory in addition to its 38.5 TB of harddisk data storage.

Organisational Structure

The Time Assignment Commission manages 50 percent of the CPU time of LaPalma for local users (the rest of the time is assigned via the RES). It's members come from different divisions of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC).

For administration and management of the supercomputer node, the IAC makes available its IT support team and additionally has employed one engineer dedicated full-time to fulfil these functions.

LaPalma team (left to right): (back) Carlos Martín, Justo Luna, Ubay Dorta, Antonio Dorta, Víctor Plasencia (front) Antonio Jiménez, Antonio Díaz.

The LaPalma Supercomputer Systems & Support Team:

Antonio Jiménez Mancebo (PhD), Head of the I.T. Common Services (SIC); Carlos Martín Galán (Senior Engineer), Technician Responsible of SIC; Antonio Díaz Chinea (Senior Engineer), System Administrator; Justo Luna López (Engineer), System Administrator; Ubay Dorta Guerra (Engineer), System Administrator and UserSupport; Antonio Dorta Lorenzo (PhD), User Support; Victor Plasencia Darias (Operator), User Support.

Technical and Scientific Highlights 2014

The research groups, belonging to several subject areas of the IAC, consumed 1.4 million CPU hours of LaPalma in 2014. That amount represents 81% of time available for local users.

Key Publications 2014


  • Sanromá, E.; Pallé, E.; Parenteau, M. N.; Kiang, N. Y.; Gutiérrez-Navarro, A. M.; López, R.; Montañés-Rodríguez, P., "Characterizing the Purple Earth: Modeling the Globally Integrated Spectral Variability of the Archean Earth", The Astrophysical Journal, V780, A52 (2014).
  • Socas-Navarro, H.; de la Cruz Rodriguez, J.; Asensio Ramos, A.; Trujillo Bueno, J.; Ruiz Cobo, B., "An open source, massively parallel code for non-LTE synthesis and inversion of spectral lines and Zeeman-induced Stokes profiles", Astronomy & Astrophysics (2014).
  • Socas-Navarro, H., "The solar oxygen abundance from an empirical three-dimensional model", Astronomy & Astrophysics (2014).
  • Yelles Chaouche, L.; Moreno-Insertis, F.; Bonet, J. A., "The power spectrum of solar convection flows from high-resolution observations and 3D simulations", Astronomy & Astrophysics (2014).


  • Sanromá Ramos, E., "The Earth through time as a template for the characterization of inhabitable exoplanets", 2014 (thesis advisor E. Pallé).

Key Projects 2014

Seismic Holography of the Tachocline along the Solar Cycle (P.I.: Manuel Díaz Alfaro)

The aim of this project is the study of the tachocline and the deep part of the convection zone in the Sun along the solar cycle, using techniques of seismic holography. The tachocline is a thin layer located between the radiative interior and the convective envelope of the Sun, where the solar dynamo is believed to be generated, creating the magnetic cycle of solar activity. The technique, using observations of the velocity field in the solar surface and a model of the solar interior, reconstructs the travel of acoustic waves from the solar interior towards the solar surface. In this way, we can create seismic maps of perturbations with respect to the model of the solar interior at different depths. This study was performed for a range of different depths, including the tachocline, with simulated data and with observations taken by the GONG (Global Oscillation Network Group) between 2002 and 2014 along the solar cycle.

Relative phase shift with respect to depth and latitude between two datasets simulating the whole Sun, where 2D Gaussian-shaped sound-speed perturbations have been introduced centered at 0.7 Rsun and 30º in both hemispheres, with central peak values of the sound-speed perturbations of 0.70% and 0.65% in the Northern hemisphere (blue) and 0.50% and 0.55% in the Southern hemisphere (red). The Northern difference has been reversed to be expressed in positive values. A model Gaussian with the perturbation parameters is shown in black for comparison.

The dynamics and magnetism of the solar atmosphere (P.I.: Fernando Moreno Insertis)

We study different physical processes that take place in the solar atmosphere (corona, chromosphere, photosphere) or in the convection cells in the topmost few Megameters of the solar interior. The basic method used is the numerical modelling and experimentation using the Bifrost radiation-MHD code, which can be run in massively parallel computers over hundreds of CPUs using Message Passing Algorithms. The code contains LTE radiation transfer, scattering, optically thin radiation cooling and thermal conduction. The processes studied in 2014 centered around the emission of a cool jet with temperatures around 10.000 degrees as a by-product of the collision of emerging and ambient-coronal magnetized regions. The complicated dynamical, thermodynamical and electromagnetic phenomena involved in this process were studied in detail.

Density map illustrating the formation of a cold and dense wall as a result of the reconnection event following an episode of magnetic flux emergence into the solar corona. Temperature contours have been superimposed to the map. We can distinguish the cold wall as the elongated structure that reaches heights of 14 000 km to the right of the figure. The temperature in that domain is below 30 000 K, i.e., chromospheric temperatures. At the same time, a coronal jet is forming on the left hand side that we can identify through the pink contour in the image.
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